Tag Archives: Anthony Rendon

Streaking Nationals come to Citizens Bank Park on a roll

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Red-hot Juan Soto leads the streaking Nats into South Philly

The Philadelphia Phillies (47-43) and Washington Nationals (47-42) return to play following four days off for the 2019 MLB All-Star Game break with a Friday night contest at Citizens Bank Park.

These two NL East Division rivals currently control the two National League Wildcard playoff positions in the league standings. However, for nearly two months they have been travelling in opposite directions.
On May 29, the Phillies were 33-22 and held a 3.5 game lead over the Atlanta Braves in the NL East standings. That same day, the Nats were 24-32 and 9.5 games behind the Phillies.
But since May 24, Washington has forged a 28-11 mark. That is the best record in all of Major League Baseball since that date.
Meanwhile, the Phillies have slumped to a 14-21 record since their May 20 high-water at 11 games over the .500 mark. That is the same record in that time frame as the last place Miami Marlins have fashioned. Only the 13-22 record of the New York Mets over that period has been worse in the division.
All of that – the Phillies hot start, the Nationals recent hot stretch – is now in the rear view mirror. The ultimate story of the 2019 season for these two division rivals is going to be written over the next two and a half months. If the Phillies want to begin to turn their season back around, it has to begin this weekend.
For more than three weeks, the Phillies have faced nothing but NL East Division rivals on the schedule. The club has gone just 9-13 in those games. That stretch ends with this three-game weekend tilt with the Nationals.
The Phillies are going to come out of the stretch with a losing record. But winning this series would still mark a big step forward. It would also move them past the Nationals in the standings heading into a very tough four-game series to open next week with the visiting Los Angeles Dodgers.
Both teams have a middle-of-the-road offensive attack. The Nationals rank 14th in all of baseball with their average of 4.94 runs scored per game. The Phillies are right behind, their 4.91 runs per game ranking 15th among the 30 MLB ball clubs.
There is a big difference on the mound. Washington’s pitching staff ranks 5th in the National League with a .247 batting average against, and their .720 OPS against is 3rd in the league. Their pitchers collectively rank 4th in MLB in strikeouts.
The Phillies struggling staff is 14th in both AVG (.265) and OPS against (.799), and they have surrendered 153 home runs, far and away the highest total in the league and third-most in all of baseball. They are also just 22nd in strikeouts.
For the Phillies to actually win this series their pitching staff is going to have to begin stepping up. If the pitchers who are here and healthy right now cannot demonstrate improvement across the board, then the Nationals will keep up their winning ways and begin to pull away in the standings.

WASHINGTON NATIONALS

TOP LINEUP THREATS

Anthony Rendon: (29) 3B – .304/.386/.611 with 20 home runs, 44 extra-base hits, 62 RBIs, 65 runs
Trea Turner: (26) SS – .288/.343/.491 with 7 home runs, 26 extra-base hits, 21 RBIs, 36 runs, 17 steals (missed 39 games)
Victor Robles: (22) CF – .246/.320/443 with 13 home runs, 39 extra-base hits, 37 RBIs, 47 runs, 12 steals
Howie Kendrick: (35) UT – .327/.378/.563 with 12 home runs, 25 extra-base hits, 47 RBIs, 39 runs
Adam Eaton: (30) RF – .281/.368/.383 with 6 home runs, 18 extra-base hits, 21 RBIs, 50 runs
Kurt Suzuki (35)/Yan Gomes (31): catching tandem combined for 14 homers and 58 RBIs

SPOTLIGHT PLAYER

Juan Soto: The 20-year-old left fielder was the runner-up to Ronald Acuna Jr.for the 2018 NL Rookie of the Year Award. After a slow start to his sophomore campaign, Soto has caught fireand helped lead the Nationals charge back to contending status.
Since May 17 when he was hitting just .228, Soto has slashed .354/.452/.628 with nine home runs, 23 extra-base hits, 32 RBIs and 36 runs scored over 164 at-bats across 46 games.
The Nationals manager (see below) was quoted by MASN’s Byron Kerr as this series prepares to open:
I think his overall game has gotten better. Everybody talks about his hitting, but I think his outfield play has gotten better. His baserunning’s gotten better. In that aspect, he’s become that polished player. Still young, still learning. Works incredibly in all aspects of the game. But I think we still haven’t seen what he potentially can do as he gets older.

SCHEDULED STARTING PITCHERS

FRIDAY – Stephen Strasburg (30): 10-4, 3.64 ERA, 1.040 WHIP, 3.18 FIP, 92 hits over 116.1 IP across 18 starts with a 138/29 K:BB ratio. That Nationals come out of the break by throwing their three best starting pitchers against the Phillies. Strasburg has largely been dominating in what has been one of the big right-hander’s most complete seasons.
SATURDAY – Patrick Corbin (29): 7-5, 3.34 ERA, 1.112 WHIP, 3.34 FIP, 93 hits over 113.1 IP across 18 starts with a 129/33 K:BB ratio. Signed as a free agent this past off-season, Corbin has been everything the Nationals could have hoped. He provides the club a lone southpaw rotation presence, and a very good one.
SUNDAY – Anibal Sanchez (35): 5-6, 3.66 ERA, 1.327 WHIP, 4.53 FIP, 78 hits over 83.2 IP across 16 starts with a 75/33 K:BB ratio. This was supposed to be a turn for ace Max Scherzer. But ongoing back stiffness is causing the Nationals to skip him and go with 14-year veteran righty Sanchez. 

THE SKIPPER

54-year-old Dave Martinez had 16 years of playing experience in Major League Baseball with nine different organizations between 1986-2001. Four of those seasons from 1988-91 were with the Montreal Expos, the franchise from whom the Nationals are descended.
After retiring as an active player, Martinez became a spring training instructor for the Tampa Bay Rays, for whom he had played during the 1998-2000 seasons. In 2007, Martinez was hired as Joe Maddon‘s bench coach in Tampa, and was in that role as the club won their lone AL pennant and reached the 2008 World Series against the Phillies.
Martinez interviewed for a number of managerial positions over the next few years. When Maddon left following the 2014 campaign, Martinez was passed over for the Rays job and joined Maddon once again as the Chicago Cubs bench coach. In that role he helped the Cubs defeat the Nationals in a 2017 National League Division Series.
On October 30, 2017, Martinez was hired to take over as the Nationals manager. He has a contract running through next year, with a club option for the 2021 season. The Nationals overall record during his first year and a half at the helm is 129-122. His club finished 82-80 last year, good enough for second place in the NL East, but not good enough for a playoff spot.

SERIES WEATHER REPORT

Unless you are allergic to sunshine and warm temperatures, weather will play little role in this weekend series down in South Philadelphia. Each day is expected to include high temps right around 90 degrees, lows around 70 degrees, and very few clouds in the sky. A modest breeze each day should keep humidity levels at reasonable summertime levels.
The Nationals have won seven of the 11 meetings between the two division rivals. Bryce Harper has two home runs and eight RBIs in those first 11 games against his former ball club.

Originally published at Phillies Nation as “Phillies series opposition preview: Washington Nationals

As MLB All-Star break arrives, Braves in charge, Nats hot, Phils not in NL East race

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The Braves have taken charge of the NL East at the All-Star break

The Philadelphia Phillies (47-43) have arrived at the MLB All-Star break in third place in the National League East Division standings. They trail the Atlanta Braves by 6.5 games and are a half-game behind the Washington Nationals, but still control the second NL Wildcard playoff berth.

The Phillies captured a weekend series over the New York Mets at Citi Field by winning two of the three games, capped off by a rousing 8-3 victory in Sunday’s series finale. That followed on the heels of a series defeat after they dropped two of three to the first-place Atlanta Braves to open last week.
Now nearly three and a half months into the six-month long MLB regular season, the Phillies appear to be approaching a cross-roads. They led the division for all but seven days up until June 12, then were passed for second place by the Nats just this past week.
While the club has struggled to produce runs on a consistent basis over the traditional first-half of the season, their real problem has been on the mound. Phillies pitchers rank at or near the bottom of most important statistical categories. While the bullpen appears to finally be getting healthy, the starting rotation has become a complete mess.
The ability of general manager Matt Klentak to find a pair of more stable, veteran, productive starting pitchers prior to the trade deadline at the end of this month will likely prove pivotal to any hope of reaching the postseason.

If Klentak is unable to procure those new starters, even a bit of improvement from the offense is unlikely to keep them in contention through the dog days of August and the crucible of a September stretch run.

The 2019 MLB All-Star Game will take place at Progressive Field in Cleveland, Ohio on Tuesday night. The lone Phillies representative will be J.T. Realmuto, who was selected as a back-up catcher for the National League.
As always, my NL East Beat report reveals how each of the Phillies divisional rivals fared over the course of the past week with a presentation of the standings, last week’s results, and the upcoming schedules for each club.

NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST DIVISION STANDINGS

EAST DIVISION

    <th aria-label="Win-Loss %" class=" poptip hide_non_quals center" data-filter="1" data-name="Win-Loss %" data-stat="win_loss_perc" data-tip="Win-Loss Percentage
    W / (W + L)
    For players, leaders need one decision for every ten team games.
    For managers, minimum to qualify for leading is 320 games.” scope=”col” style=”background-color: #dadcde; border-color: rgb(116, 118, 120) rgb(170, 170, 170); border-image: initial; border-style: solid; border-width: 1px; float: none !important; margin: 0px; opacity: initial; padding: 0px 12.375px; text-align: center;”>W-L%

    <th aria-label="Games Back" class=" poptip sort_default_asc center" data-stat="games_back" data-tip="Games Back of Division/League Leader
    Computed as games over .500 of leader (W-L) minus games over .500 of team divided by two.
    Typically computed at the end of play for a particular day.
    Blank for 1st game of DH.” scope=”col” style=”background-color: #dadcde; border-color: rgb(116, 118, 120) rgb(116, 118, 120) rgb(116, 118, 120) rgb(170, 170, 170); border-image: initial; border-style: solid; border-width: 1px; float: none !important; margin: 0px; opacity: initial; padding: 0px 12.375px; text-align: center;”>GB

    East Division
    Team W L
    Atlanta Braves 54 37 .593
    Washington Nationals 47 42 .528 6.0
    Philadelphia Phillies 47 43 .522 6.5
    New York Mets 40 50 .444 13.5
    Miami Marlins 33 55 .375 19.5

    ATLANTA BRAVES (4 – 2)

    Summary: The first-place Braves continued to win series as the month of July opened, beating the Phillies and Marlins in two of three games each last week.
    While it was nothing special, it demonstrated exactly the kind of consistent, winning performance that the Phillies had been producing over the season’s first two months.
    Upcoming: Atlanta will head out on the road following the All-Star break, visiting San Diego and Milwaukee for three games each.
    Player of the First HalfMike Soroka, SP
    NL All-Star repsFreddie Freeman 1B, Ronald Acuna Jr.OF, Mike Soroka SP

    MIAMI MARLINS (1 – 5)

    Summary: For a second straight week, Don Mattingly‘s Fish dropped five of six games, this time to the division’s top two ball clubs. The Washington Nationals swept the Marlins in D.C. to open the week, and then the Braves won two of three in Atlanta over the weekend.
    After a stretch of strong play from mid-May through mid-June, the Marlins have begun to collapse. They are just 3-9 over their last dozen contests, and their overall .375 winning percentage is the worst in the entire National League. However, their 8-7 mark against the Phillies is proving to be a major factor in the division race.
    Upcoming: The Marlins will be at home coming out of the break, hosting the New York Mets for three games over the weekend. The San Diego Padres then come to South Florida to open next week.
    Player of the First HalfGarrett Cooper, OF/1B
    NL All-Star repsSandy Alcantara P

    NEW YORK METS (2 – 3)

    Summary: A losing week has dropped the Mets to 10 games below the .500 mark on the season, with the second-worst record in the NL behind only the Marlins.
    They began last week with a two-game split of a Subway Series match-up with the New York Yankees. Then the Phillies came to Citi Field and took two of three over this past weekend. The Mets are seven games behind the Phillies for the second NL Wildcard, but would have to climb over nine other teams to get there as well.
    Upcoming: New York will come out of the break and head out on the road to begin a nine-game trip that will start in Miami over the weekend. The road trip will then take them to Minnesota for two with the AL Central-leading Twins and out to San Francisco for three with the Giants.
    Player of the First HalfPete Alonso, 1B
    NL All-Star repsPete Alonso 1B, Jeff McNeil 3B/OF

    WASHINGTON NATIONALS (5 – 1)

    Summary: The Nationals are white-hot after appearing to be on the verge of getting buried just a month ago. Since May 23, when they were 19-31 and sitting in fourth place, 10 games behind the first-place Phillies, Washington has gone 28-11 to overtake the Phils in the standings.
    This past week, the Nationals stayed hot by sweeping the Marlins at home to open the week. Then they took two of three over the weekend from the visiting Kansas City Royals.
    Upcoming: The Nats also come out of the break and head out on the road. It all starts with a visit to Citizens Bank Park this coming weekend to take on the Phillies in a showdown for second place in the NL East. The trip doesn’t take them geographically very far at all. Next week they will drive to Baltimore for a pair with the Orioles at Camden Yards. Then it’s down south for a huge four-game set next weekend in Atlanta.
    Player of the First HalfAnthony Rendon, 3B
    NL All-Star repsAnthony Rendon 3B, Max Scherzer P

    June bug Nats beginning to prove major pests in NL East

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    Anthony Rendon has led a Nationals charge back into the race

    The Philadelphia Phillies begin the month of July in a far different position than they started out the month of June.

    When the calendar made the flip from May to June, the Phillies were on top of the National League East Division standings. Their 33-24 record had the club three full games ahead of the Atlanta Braves to that point.
    The month of June was not kind to the Phillies, as the club stumbled to an 11-16 mark. Now, the Phillies begin July in second place, staring up at the Braves through a five-game deficit in the loss column.
    The Phillies went 5-2 over this past week, though it was a bit of a mixed bag of results. It began with an uplifting four-game sweep of the New York Mets at Citizens Bank Park. But this past weekend saw the Marlins capture two of three in Miami to take some wind out of the Phillies sails.
    This week’s upcoming games will lead into a four-day break for the MLB All-Star Game.
    As always, my NL East Beat report reveals how each of the Phillies divisional rivals fared over the course of the past week with a presentation of the standings, last week’s results, and the upcoming schedules for each club.

    NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST DIVISION STANDINGS

    EAST DIVISION

      <th aria-label="Win-Loss %" class=" poptip hide_non_quals center" data-filter="1" data-name="Win-Loss %" data-stat="win_loss_perc" data-tip="Win-Loss Percentage
      W / (W + L)
      For players, leaders need one decision for every ten team games.
      For managers, minimum to qualify for leading is 320 games.” scope=”col” style=”background-color: #dadcde; border-color: rgb(116, 118, 120) rgb(170, 170, 170); border-image: initial; border-style: solid; border-width: 1px; float: none !important; margin: 0px; opacity: initial; padding: 0px 12.375px; text-align: center;”>W-L%

      <th aria-label="Games Back" class=" poptip sort_default_asc center" data-stat="games_back" data-tip="Games Back of Division/League Leader
      Computed as games over .500 of leader (W-L) minus games over .500 of team divided by two.
      Typically computed at the end of play for a particular day.
      Blank for 1st game of DH.” scope=”col” style=”background-color: #dadcde; border-color: rgb(116, 118, 120) rgb(116, 118, 120) rgb(116, 118, 120) rgb(170, 170, 170); border-image: initial; border-style: solid; border-width: 1px; float: none !important; margin: 0px; opacity: initial; padding: 0px 12.375px; text-align: center;”>GB

      East Division
      Team W L
      Atlanta Braves 50 35 .588
      Philadelphia Phillies 44 40 .524 5.5
      Washington Nationals 42 41 .506 7.0
      New York Mets 38 47 .447 12.0
      Miami Marlins 32 50 .390 16.5

      ATLANTA BRAVES (4 – 3)

      Summary: Atlanta split a four-game set at Wrigley Field with the NL Central-leading Chicago Cubs, then moved on to Citi Field where they took two of three from the struggling New York Mets.
      While the Phillies were stumbling through their losing June, the Braves went 20-8 to put themselves firmly in control. Now this young and talented ball club will to capture a second straight NL East crown.
      Upcoming: Following Monday’s off-day, the Braves return home from a 10-game road trip on which they went 6-4 to welcome in the Phillies for a huge three-game series at SunTrust Park. Then over the coming weekend they will receive a visit from the Miami Marlins.

      MIAMI MARLINS (1 – 5)

      Summary: The Marlins went 2-4 this past week, with both wins coming against the Phillies at Marlins Park over this past weekend. They had begun the week getting swept in a three-gamer by the visiting Washington Nationals.
      The Marlins competed tough by going 13-14 during the month of June, aided greatly by their 5-1 mark against the Phillies over the past two weekends. Still at 18 games below the .500 mark, with an extremely difficult schedule into early August, the Fish are likely about to get cleaned, scaled, and fried.
      Upcoming: After Monday’s off-day, the Marlins will be paying visits to a pair of division rivals, Washington and Atlanta, for a three-game series with each this week.

      NEW YORK METS (1 – 6)

      Summary: This was a devastating week for the Mets, who built a seven-game losing streak before finally snapping it in Sunday’s series finale with the Braves. They began the week getting swept by the previously ice-cold Phillies, then continued the skid by dropping the first two games to Atlanta at home.
      The month of June was even worse for New York than it was for the Phillies, if you can believe that. The Mets went just 10-18 during the month, plummeting from just a game below the .500 mark and five back in the division race to their current 12 games out.
      Upcoming: Following Monday’s off-day in the schedule it will be two at Citi Field with the New York Yankees in the continuation of this year’s Subway Series. The two local rivals split a day-night doubleheader at Yankee Stadium just three weeks ago. Then the Mets will welcome in the Phillies for three over the coming weekend.

      WASHINGTON NATIONALS (5 – 1)

      Summary: If the Braves are looking back in the standings with concern at anyone these days, it is probably more at the surging Nationals than the slumping Phillies. The Nats began the month of June nine games below .500 and a distant nine off the NL East lead.
      But then it all began to finally click. The Nationals went 18-8 during the month of June to push above the .500 mark. They still trail in the division by seven games, but are within a single game in the loss column of the Phillies and Rockies for the final NL Wildcard berth.
      This past week they swept the Marlins in Miami, then captured two of three Inter-league games at Detroit against the Tigers.
      Upcoming: The Nationals will be home all week following Monday’s off-day. They will try to keep it rolling with three games each against the Marlins and Kansas City Royals.

      For Nationals it’s win now, or possibly lose two superstars

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      The Nats already lost Harper, could Rendon be next star to go?

      The Washington Nationals, who play host to the Phillies in a four-game series this week, have spent the better part of the last seven seasons dominating the National League East Division standings.

      In 2012, the Nationals ended the Phillies five-year grip on the division by capturing the franchise’ first-ever NL East crown. Their direct predecessors, the Montreal Expos, were considered to have finished in first place back in 1994, but that was the strike-ended season that was never completed.
      From 2012-18, the Nationals registered a winning season each year. They captured division titles four times in that span: 2012, 2014, and 2016-17. In each of the other three years, the Nats finished in second place.
      The club was always in the hunt for a playoff berth until suddenly falling into a deep funk from June 10 through September 6. They struggled all summer at 32-46 during that stretch, falling from first place to finish 10 back of the Atlanta Braves in the east and nine games out of a Wildcard.
      In the off-season, the Nationals lost the player who had arguably become the face of the franchise over those seven seasons. Bryce Harper left the team at age 26 to sign as a free agent with the rival Phillies.
      The Nationals brain trust believed that it could cover for the loss of Harper. They had a pair of exciting young Dominican outfielders ready to make an impact on an everyday basis in now 20-year-old Juan Soto, who was the runner-up for the 2018 NL Rookie of the Year Award, and 22-year-old Victor Robles.
      But when the season opened, things didn’t go as planned in our nation’s capital. Injuries and inconsistent play resulted in a horrendous first two months. The Nationals woke up on Friday, May 24 back home after getting swept in four games at Citi Field by the division-rival New York Mets. They were a disheartening 19-31, and were already 10 games off the pace in the NL East.
      Since that time, the Nationals have begun to regain some of their lost mojo. They have fashioned a 14-7 record over the last three weeks, and though still 8.5 out in the division, the Nationals are now just six games behind the Phillies in the race for the final NL Wildcard spot. Of course, there are also five other teams ahead of them in chasing that spot.
      If the Nationals cannot continue to win consistently and make a serious move up in the standings, that brain trust is going to have a couple of extremely difficult decisions to make a month from now as the August 1 MLB trade deadline approaches. Those decisions involved two key players, their third baseman and their top starting pitcher.
      Third baseman Anthony Rendon has been, as Harper was before him, a career Nationals player. Like Harper, he was a first round draft pick, taken by Washington at sixth overall in the 2011 MLB Draft. That was right after the club had made Stephen Strasburg and Harper the top overall pick in the two previous drafts.
      He turned 29-years-old at the start of this month, and is leading the team in virtually every offensive category. But also, like Harper last year, Rendon is about to become a free agent at the conclusion of this current season. Though both sides have said that they were willing to remain open to contract discussions as they season went along, there are no signs that the team is making any progress in getting him to agree to forego his first shot at free agency and re-up with a contract extension.
      If you want to go ahead and agree that Nolan Arenado is the best third baseman in the NL today, then you had best understand that Rendon is clearly second in that ranking. If it weren’t for the Rockies outstanding third sacker, Rendon would certainly have a handful of Gold Glove Awards in his trophy case.
      Arenado just signed a seven-year, $260 million deal with Colorado at age 28 years. Already making nearly $19 million for this 2019 season, Rendon is likely going to be looking for that same seven-year package for something at or above the $200 million total mark.
      How Anthony Rendon ranks among NL 3rd basemen:

      1st         On-Base Percentage (.415)
      1st         Slugging Percentage (.660)
      1st         OPS (1.075)
      1st         WAR (3.1)
      1st         wRC+ (169)
      1st         wOBA (.435)
      1st         OPS+ (70)
      2nd       Batting Average (.321)

      39 people are talking about this

      While owner Ted Lerner and general manager Mike Rizzo contemplate how high they are willing to go on a Rendon deal, if he even wants to stay, that will not be the only contract consideration they will have on their minds as the trade deadline approaches.
      Ace right-hander Max Scherzer, arguably the best right-handed starting pitcher in the game today and winner of three Cy Young Awards, can exercise his “10-and-5 rights” after this season. That would lock the Nationals into his contract, which call for him to be paid move than $42 million in each of the next two seasons as he turns ages 35 and 36 years of age.
      Scherzer is having yet another great season this year. His 2.27 FIP mark is the best in baseball. His K/9 are actually up a tick, while his BB/9 are down. He has allowed just 87 hits over 99.1 innings across 15 starts with a phenomenal 136/20 K:BB.
      So why would Washington even think of unloading Scherzer at the deadline this year? It would be the combination of those 10-and-5 rights, which would mean that he could veto any trade after this season, combined with his being owed $84 million for two more years as he continues to age.
      If the Nationals are unable to climb back into the race in a serious way, they are at least going to have to entertain the idea of moving Scherzer and Rendon. Each player would bring back a substantial prospect package in trade with which Washington could continue to build a young foundation to battle in what looks like it will be a tough division during the 2020’s.
      So, for the 2019 Washington Nationals, the time is now to keep winning, to keep digging their way out of that early hole. They have seven key games this week, four with the Phillies and three with the Braves. After that, the MLB schedule looks very weak for awhile.

      If they can make up any further ground in these battles with the two clubs ahead of them in the NL East Division, and then do what they would be expected to do with the lesser opposition which the schedule presents over the following few weeks, Washington could end up forced to keep the band together for at least one more strong run this year.

      Struggling Phillies open mid-June series with resurgent Nationals

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      Many fans in both towns now conflicted over Werth and Harper

      The struggling Philadelphia Phillies (39-32) continue with their road show, this time opening a four-game series with the rejuvenated Washington Nationals (33-38) on Monday night in our Nation’s Capital.

      The Phillies are coming off a humbling Father’s Day experience in which they were dismantled by the division-leading Atlanta Braves in a 15-1 rout. They enter D.C. having now dropped five of their last seven games, and 10 of 16 going back to May 29.
      After suffering through a horrendous 19-31 start that buried them in fourth place, 10 games out, the Nationals have begun to right their ship. The club has gone 14-7 since that point. Still in fourth place, but they are just six games behind the Phillies for the final NL Wildcard spot, and would love to cut into that deficit this week.
      They enter the series fresh off their own 15-run experience. Only in their case, the Nats were the team scoring all the runs in a 15-5 win at home yesterday over the Arizona Diamondbacks.
      The Nationals offensive attack ranks seventh in the National League in both runs scored and OPS, and they are third in stolen bases. On the mound their pitchers are tied for sixth in batting average against and seventh in OPS against, and the staff ranks first in strikeouts.
      A big reason they are at the top of those strikeout rankings can be found in their starting rotation, and the Phillies will see the Nationals best this week. Washington will throw lefty Patrick Corbin in the opener, young Erick Fedde in the second game, and then finish up the series with Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg for the final two games.
      These two teams have already met three times this season. They split a two-gamer in Washington back in early April. The Nationals then took two of three in Philly a week later, but saw the Phillies take two of three at Citizens Bank Park in early May. They will meet yet again in a four-gamer right after the MLB All-Star break back in Philadelphia, but then do not see one another until the first day of Fall, on September 23.
      Of course, there is added intensity when these two clubs meet, at least from the Washington fans perspective, with star right fielder Bryce Harper having left town. In eight games between the two clubs this year, Harper has slashed .321/.472/.643 with two homers, three doubles, eight walks, seven RBIs, and six runs scored.
      Harper was the Nationals pick at first overall in the 2010 MLB Draft and played his first seven seasons with them, winning the 2012 NL Rookie of the Year Award and the 2015 National League Most Valuable Player Award, and making the NL All-Star squad six times.
      A ball club that is much better than their record indicates, the Nats are looking at this as a big opportunity series. For the struggling, injury-depleted Phillies, this will mark another difficult challenge.

      WASHINGTON NATIONALS

      TOP LINEUP THREATS

      Anthony Rendon: The Nationals are in danger of losing their most impactful player for a second straight season. Rendon is a free agent after this year, and the 29-year-old third baseman doesn’t seem close to a deal. He leads the team in virtually every category, slashing .321/.415/.660 with 16 homers, 50 RBIs, 37 extra-base hits, and 52 runs scored. Those numbers are better across the board than anyone in the Phillies lineup.
      Trea Turner: 26-year-old dynamic shortstop was hit on the hand while trying to bunt against the Phillies during the first week of play and missed nearly seven weeks. He started slowly after returning, but since May 28 has slashed .333/.392/.639 with three homers, 16 extra-base hits, nine RBIs, 16 runs scored, and five steals over 17 games. It’s no coincidence that the Nats have won 11 of those 17 games.
      Juan Soto: The 20-year-old lefty-hitting outfielder was the runner-up for last year’s NL Rookie of the Year honors and much as with Turner, he has been hot over the last few weeks. Since May 24, Soto is slashing .329/.413/.519 with four homers, 11 RBIs, and 20 runs scored.
      Adam Eaton: 30-year-old veteran now in his eighth big-league season, Eaton is hitting .280 and is tied for second on the club with 41 runs scored.
      Victor Robles: If there is one player who the Nats would really like to see pick it up, Robles would be it. The 22-year-old center fielder is hitting just .234 and has only one home run in the last month after banging eight over the season’s first six weeks.
      Matt Adams: The big lefty first baseman has been activated from the IL just in time to face four right-handed starters being thrown by the Phillies. Adams has nine homers and 27 RBIs in just 130 plate appearances, with eight of those longballs as well as five doubles coming off righties.
      Kurt Suzuki: The Nationals split their catching duties in a fairly even platoon setup, but Suzuki is the power half. He has seven homers and 30 RBIs in just 137 plate appearances.
      Brian Dozier: 32-year-old veteran second baseman was a former AL All-Star with the Minnesota Twins, for whom he played the first seven of his now eight-year career. He has 10 home runs and 10 doubles, remaining a dangerous, albeit streaky, hitter with the Nationals.

      SPOTLIGHT PLAYER

      Howie Kendrick: Not much was expected of Kendrick this season, who at age 35 (he turns 36 next month) is now in his 14th big-league season. Kendrick spent the first 11 years of his career in Los Angeles, nine with the Angels and then two with the Dodgers.
      He was then traded in late July 2017 to the Phillies for a fringe prospect, seeing action in 24 games out in left field and another 10 at second base. Kendrick then became a free agent, signing with Washington.
      When numerous injuries opened up some playing time earlier this season, Kendrick received increased opportunities and made the best of them. His 12 homers and 43 RBIs are second on the team, and he is slashing at the .333/.383/.602 mark. He also continues to provide value with his defensive versatility, playing in 19 games at first base and 14 each at second and third bases.
      Kendrick, who has made $65 million over the course of his career but is now making “only” $4 million this year, will be a free agent once again after the season ends. This kind of production assures that someone will want him coming off their bench. Maybe even the Phillies.

      SCHEDULED STARTING PITCHERS

      MONDAY – Patrick Corbin: 5-5 4.11 ERA, 1.219 WHIP, 75 hits over 85.1 IP across 14 starts with a 94/29 K:BB
      TUESDAY – Erick Fedde: 1-1, 3.68 ERA, 1.255 WHIP, 32 hits over 36.2 IP across 10 games (5 starts) with a 21/14 K:BB
      WEDNESDAY – Max Scherzer: 5-5, 2.81 ERA, 1.077 WHIP, 87 hits over 99.1 IP across 15 starts with a 136/20 K:BB
      THURSDAY – Stephen Strasburg: 7-4, 3.75 ERA, 1.063 WHIP, 78 hits over 96 IP across 15 starts with a 115/24 K:BB

      THE SKIPPER

      A native New Yorker, Dave Martinez is in his second season at the helm in Washington after guiding the club to an 82-80 mark and a second place finish in the NL East Division a year ago.
      Martinez played 16 seasons in Major League Baseball after being drafted in the third round back in 1983 by the Chicago Cubs. He played for nine different organizations, with his four years in Chicago and four with the old Montreal Expos, the Nationals predecessors, marking his longest stints.
      He was under fire when the club got off to such a miserable start this year, but any talk of firing has been muted with this recent period of improved play and winning by the team.

      THE BALLPARK

      Nationals Park opened for the 2008 season and is known mostly as a fair ballpark for hitters and pitchers, ranking 11th in the current ESPN 2019 MLB Ballpark Factors list.
      Dimensions are 337 and 335 down the left and right field lines respectively. Left-center is 377 feet out, right-center at 370 feet, and it will be 402 feet out to dead-center field.
      Located along the Anacostia River in the Navy Yard section of D.C., it has a regular capacity of 41,339 but they have reached as many as 30,000 just nine times since Opening Day. One of those was for Harper’s first return back on April 2 with Scherzer on the mound when just under 36,000 showed up.
      Back in 201o they added a ‘Ring of Honor’ to celebrate those from the old Washington Senators franchise, the Homestead Grays of the Negro Leagues who were based in town, as well as the Expos/Nationals players who have been enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame. A dozen-and-a-half players are currently honored, including Walter JohnsonHarmon KillebrewJosh Gibson, and Andre Dawson. Also honored there is former Phillies 2008 World Series hero Jayson Werth.
      Since 2011, a submarine dive horn blares after each Nationals home run and victory in a nod to the park’s location in the Navy Yard neighborhood.
      In the middle of the 4th inning at every game, fans are treated to the President’s Race. Runners wearing costumes topped by oversized heads of four U.S. Presidents engage in a foot race, often with comedic elements built into the contest. The four Presidents are George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, and Thomas Jefferson. Three other Presidents have also spent time as racers, but those original four remain today as the current lineup.

      SERIES WEATHER REPORT

      Game time for all four nights is scheduled for 7:05 PM EDT
      This will be a very unsettled weather week in Washington. There is a 50% chance of showers and thunderstorms on Monday night, then an 80% chance on both Tuesday and Wednesday, dropping to 60% on Thursday. Temperatures will be in the upper-70’s to mid-80’s during games with high humidity and light winds all week. Any fans taking the ride down from Philly should be prepared for delays at the start of, or during, each of the four games, though all four should be played in the end.
      Report using data from The Weather Channel